An eager young railroad detective goes undercover.
Train fanatic Jim Stringer, still rising professionally, is now a detective for the North Eastern Railway company in York. He’s so excited by his new authority that even before he begins the job, he uses it to break up a pub fight between the brawling Cameron brothers. Wide-eyed narrator Stringer is amazed to read in the newspaper that the brash brothers have been murdered. When his new boss, Chief Inspector Weatherill, calls him into the office on his first day, Jim suspects he’ll get a shot at the Cameron case. Instead, Weatherill asks the new detective to go undercover and infiltrate a band of lowlife thieves based far from the home recently set up by Jim and his pregnant spouse Lydia, referred to as “the wife.” On the home front, storm clouds are brewing. Jim’s father has announced that he’s coming for an extended visit. Jim has to beg the emancipated Lydia to drag out of storage the sewing machine his father gave the couple as a wedding present, and later spends most of his limited time at home refereeing discussions between the uneasy in-laws. As the case heats up, Jim goes with the thugs to Paris, far from an imperiled Lydia.
Stringer’s third adventure (The Blackpool Highflyer, 2007, etc.) has the same engaging voice and lively splashes of historical color as his others.